Resource Reflections

What is Maker Ed? Forums Knowledge Building Resource Reflections

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    Hi everyone,

    Thank you so much for putting yourself out there and sharing so much with your goal setting posts. Although this community is new, each of you have shown your willingness to interact and support each other.

    To support your resource reflections, we wanted to highlight an article on our Resource page ( ) by Katrina Schwartz. This article really speaks to some of the discussion from goal setting posts and has 5 really great principles to support integrating maker activities into classroom settings.

    Looking forward to engaging with you as you reflect on resources and propel our learning forward!

    The Maker Team


    After spending some time looking through various resources on this site such as the Katrina Schwartz article I realized that I am not alone in some of my struggles and fears about MakerEd. The beginning of the article gave me a sense of relief when it noted how educators revert back to direct instruction when they are unsure if all of the outcomes are being met during maker-enhanced projects. This is probably one of my biggest fears about engaging my students in MakerEd. I am excited about the opportunity for them to take part in a highly-engaging process but fear that students will miss out on specific outcomes. The article’s focus on this idea of “rationalizing the time commitment” reminded me of the fear of the “Grecian Urn”. We want our students to enjoy the process of creating something but that time commitment needs to be worth the learning that will be taking place.

    I really appreciated the principle of anticipating the skills students will need throughout the process and therefore being ready to scaffold their understanding. I realized even this does not need to be a time for “direct instruction” but can also be accomplished through small group instruction, stations, or review groups.

    After reviewing the article I took away what I’ve always learned about the use of technology in the classroom. We should be using it (technology/makered) to enhance the concepts we are teaching but need to ensure we aren’t using MakerEd just for show, just “for fun” or to “glitz up” an activity. It needs to be implemented in a well-thought out manner that will lead to a high level of learning and engagement.


    Reflection of article: Five Ways to Ensure Real Learning Happens in Maker-Enhanced Projects

    Here are some big take-aways from the article Five Ways to Ensure Real Learning in Maker-Enhanced Projects:

    1. The success of the maker-project depends on the strength of the driving question.
    2. Teacher must develop a question that relates to curriculum outcomes but that also weighs equally process and product
    3. Process skills such as collaboration, communication, critical-thinking are always being assessed
    4. The actual final product is irrelevant and could be different for each group
    5. A partnership agreement is important to hold students accountable to each other, to the process, and to deepen their engagement with the process
    6. The goal of maker-education and project-learning is to solve authentic problems and not to check a box

    This article really connected with my current goals as a grade 5 teacher. With the rest of my team, we are diving into a UBD that includes a 3D design. This article helped me find a starting point: we need to develop an initial driving question ie: the students need to solve an authentic problem set before them.
    So that led me here: Learners ask Deep Questions
    and here:
    Driving Questions

    We are hoping to link a 3D project to a unit in ELA: advertisements. In this unit, we explore slogans, catch-phrases, persuasive arguments, difference between fact and opinion, etc. So, what could our driving question be? How will it relate to a 3D design (3D printed)?

    And this leads me even more down the rabbit hole that is research and trying to narrow a focus enough to pin down the ellusive Initial Driving Question.

    Wish me luck!


    Hi ksgadbois and Kristen,
    Your reflections on the article are interesting and really speak to the common struggles most teachers have when employing maker activities in their classrooms. Is it worth my time? Is it worth the students’ time? How deeply do connections to the Program of Studies have to be? Can I just be teaching design thinking principles, problem solving and collaboration? Whether your maker task is a small mini challenge or something big, there are many answers to these questions. You can be acting at all of those levels at any one time and they are all ok. It goes back to your own goals and your own ideas about how you want Maker Ed to look in your classrooms. If you want Maker Ed to be something that is connected to curriculum, you will find ways to do it. Ideally, it isn’t an add on or extra, it is a vehicle for teaching content, but it can also be a vehicle for teaching habits of mind.

    Here is a good article on coding which talks about ways to connect it to curriculum. Many of the ideas in the article can be applied to Maker Ed as well, but since STEM is a relative of Maker Ed, I thought I would share it here.

    Click to access Computer_Coding_K8_en.pdf

    We hope you are enjoying your journey!

    The Maker Ed Team


    Thank you so much for providing the link to the article, “Five Ways Real Learning Happens in Maker-Enhanced Projects.” I connected with many of the comments, examples and quotes shared and I feel this is a perfect article to share with teachers that are “Wading In.”

    I agree with Michael Stone when he stated, “If you are going to do maker-enhanced project-based learning, it has to have explicit connections to standards. Otherwise you’re going to have a hard time justifying the time investment” (as cited in Schwartz, 2016, para. 5). When introduced to MakerEd last year, I quickly drew parallels to problem-based, hands-on learning activities that I have designed in the past. For example, building a functional parachute or a glider that can be manipulated to perform a series of movements. I am now starting to branch out and consider how I can implement Maker challenges within some of my other units of study.

    Each year our school participates in Innovation Week, wherein students identify a problem and design an innovative solution to address this. This year, our team is doing something a little different and I couldn’t be more excited. Our focus for Innovation Week requires students to design a MakerEd challenge that aligns with one topic within our Science curriculum. They will be responsible for examining the learner outcomes, researching a specific topic and designing a hands-on MakerEd challenge for their peers. In this, students will have to outline the expectations, consider the constraints and identify the materials that will be provided. They will also have to justify the purpose for their activity and how this connects to the learning standards. Each group of students will go through a testing (iteration) cycle with their peers, during which they will receive feedback for improvement.

    Of course, through this work, I am not expecting perfection. As the article outlines, the process is just as important as the product. Over the past 5 years, I have moved away from only evaluating the final product and now assess on “process skills like collaboration, critical thinking, communication and innovation alongside the specific content goals” (Schwartz, 2016, para. 11).

    This article did highlight some areas that I will focus on through my experience with and in the future. One is my ability to design a larger scale, MakerEd project, in which I am required to consider the scaffolds required for individual student success. I am currently only designing small scale (1 hour) challenges for my students; as I am “Wading In,” I feel this is a good starting point for me. How would you recommend I transition to designing larger-scale MakerEd projects? What should my “first steps” be?

    I would also like to focus on letting go of control when it comes to MakerEd challenges. I fear the activities I am designing are too structured and do not allow for as much creativity as I would like. I find myself providing essential skills and knowledge before having students engage in the task, instead of letting them discover these through the process. How can I move beyond this?



    How cool is it that your students will diving into outcomes themselves as they design challenges this year!

    It will be interesting to hear what others in the community think about your next steps, but it sounds like you are already well on your way based on your Innovation Week project. As you mention, and as you are already doing, ties to curriculum are essential. Are there ways some of your small projects could be brought together to be parts of each other? Are there ways a larger project could connect cross-curricularly? Maybe it starts off small, but over the next few iterations of your own team’s design it becomes larger in subsequent years?

    Just like a design process that might start anywhere within the stages, I don’t there is one “correct” answer about how to transition to larger projects. It could be tech facilitated, as Kristen is looking to do with her ELA project, or might just get larger organically as more outcomes are able to be connected. The fact that you are reflecting on growing this area of pedagogy means you are already on your way.

    I appreciate the fact you bring up control as well in your post. Sometimes it is essential to support student skills and knowledge and discovery can occur in different ways. I wonder if this depends on the challenge presented to students. For example, if executing the classic spaghetti tower challenge, very little teacher control is needed, but if using tools with safety repercussions, teacher support on the front end is very important. Do you have any examples you might be able to share of activities where you have reflected on wishing to allow students more discovery? Maybe some of our other community members have some ideas for you as well.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

    The Maker Ed Team

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